There are creams, lotions and potions for all manner of skincare needs these days, but all the cleanser, toner and moisturiser in the world won't help if you've got the wrong product for your skin type.
Check out our guide to finding out what your skin type is, and what kinds of products you should invest in for a gorgeous glowing complexion.
What skin type are you?
In her book Beauty: The New Basics, author and former Beauty Editor of The New York Times Magazine Rona Berg suggests one simple test to determine your skin type.
She explains: "Take a few pieces of tissue paper and press on different spots on your face. If your skin is oily, the paper will stick, pick up oily bits and become translucent. If the paper doesn't stick or pick up any oily spots, your skin is dry. If it sticks in your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) then you have combination (or normal) skin."
What your skin type means
If you are prone to blackheads and spots, and plagued with enlarged and visible pores, the chances are you have oily skin. Your face may feel moist, and is often shiny, particularly in the middle of the day when oil production is at its peak. Oily skin can cause issues when it comes to applying makeup, as it can exacerbate the problem, or simply prove difficult to apply well and keep in place.
In terms of skincare, it's essential that you avoid cheap cleansers as these contain harsh agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate that will strip away too much oil, thereby encouraging your skin to produce more. Opt for a light and gentle lotion alternative, and in particular seek out those containing skin-balancing and calming ingredients such as rose, geranium, chamomile and benzoin. An oil-free moisturiser is an essential, and you may find antiseptic ingredients such as tea tree, peppermint and lemon help to keep spots under control.
Ever experienced that tight feeling across your face after cleansing? Then your skin type is almost certainly dry. Fine wrinkles can easily appear, and red, flaky patches are a dead giveaway. You may also find that makeup emphasises dry areas.
To combat dry skin, use a gentle facial scrub, along with a cream or lotion cleanser, avoiding foaming washes that contain harsh, oil-stripping ingredients. When cleansing, be sure to pay special attention to your particular problem areas, whether that be cheeks, neck or decolletage (the chest area). Dry skin sufferers often find applying a facial oil prior to moisturiser really helps, as most contain natural ingredients that help to lock in moisture. For either an oil or a moisturiser, look for products that contain vitamin E, evening primrose oil, micro algae, or jasmine or rose oils.
This particular skin type is the most common amongst women, with around 70% falling into this category. The good news is that your skin is likely smooth, evenly toned and radiant. The bad, that you have a tendency towards dryness on the cheeks, and oily issues in the T-zone.
When it comes to products, there is no one cure-all, simply because combination skin varies so greatly. Some find they suffer dryness on the cheeks but rarely break out in the T-zone, while others are prone to spots and blackheads but avoid the flakiness. Combination skin can happily take a little gentle exfoliation - just vary it according to the specific area, ie. once a week in the T-zone, and twice a week in dry areas, to remove dead skin cells.
As with other skin types, the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulphate is to be avoided, as it will worsen the oily issues, so try a cleansing milk instead, which is light and hydrating, leaving you feeling clean but without the dry, tight sensation.
Nourishing face oils can also be used, but look for products containing lemon or frankincense to help balance the skin's natural pH. The same goes for moisturiser, and if possible, invest in a light cream or gel that is non-greasy and won't clog your pores.
What skin type are you, and which products do you find work the best? Leave your comments below...